Leadership,  Marketing,  Strategy


A leader’s top priority is designing and building successful teams capable of solving customer and organization problems. Building successful teams entails having innovative capabilities and mastering some competencies that sets the organisation apart, and that will attract external talent as well as a talent pool within the organization. Successful teams perform well, sustainably, and under pressure—without close supervision. 

Despite the rise of digital media and data-driven marketing, a great team’s fundamental role has remained unchanged. Whether it is aligning with the boss’s priorities and overall corporate strategy, selecting the right target markets and customers, understanding customer needs, creating simply better, user-friendly products and services, : all of these are still at the heart of winning and retaining profitable customers. 

Building a team with the right technical and human skills mix is critical for success. The ability to listen, collaborate, persevere, and so forth. I have been building teams for over 5 years now, so let me share a few things that has worked for me. 


If you want to build a great team, clarity matters. I keep it simple with this approach. I summarize the goal and what delivering results entails. For example, a goal to increase revenue by improving the retention rate of the most profitable customers. Whatever the goal, having a clear understanding of it will tremendously assist in determining the best skill mix required to build a successful team that will deliver. 


Once there is clarity, think about recruiting, developing, and motivating people with the right technical and human skills. What I usually do is scout or identify people with the relevant mix of skills to deliver on that task. Sounds obvious, but you will be shocked how too few people do this. You will have to decide which capabilities and competencies you want to build or outsource.

My approach is usually to build expertise internally if the skill would become significantly pivotal eventually or outsource if it takes time to build, and the project is time sensitive. Others can be outsourced for now. In my example, when recruiting, you want to bring in someone with a proven record of excellent customer service delivery, with a knack for solving problems into the team or train existing personnel to master that art. Review and adjust the skills structure of your team to address goals that can lead to breakthroughs in team performance.  


Once you have assembled the right people, the next thing is your team’s alignment around the key priorities associated with the overall goal. Here is where the purpose, the vision, or mission statement, culture comes in. Repeat it as often as possible so it sticks. The reason everyone is part of this effective team about to do great stuff. Focusing on customer experience is something that many organizations talk about, but all too frequently, internal matters like budgets, project deadlines, and departmental relationships take precedence. To ensure an external focus, you must put specific processes in place. Scrambling to meet deadlines while abandoning customer queries is something that should not happen. 


Simon Sinek was quoted as saying “a team is not a group of people that work together, but a group of people that trust each other.” That is Simon describing some of the attributes of a great team. I cannot emphasize how important trust is if you want to build a great team. You need it, so your team can go over and beyond to get things done. You will also need trust if you want folks to be honest with you. For the perfectionist, it is hard to let go and trust others to get the job done. You always want to be on top of things. One of the dangers are that you would be stifling creativity and extra adrenaline they would have poured into the task. You can start with projects that are not high skates. 

For communication, encourage it and live it. Evidence of a great team is when team members can bridge silos and cross collaborate without having you, the leader interfere or intercede. And I do this often. I may have access to a particular solution or document, but I will insist that a member of the team gets it instead from his/her colleagues. Communication creates a strong of sense of community. The best teams meet in several places other than formal meetings. 


And it starts with you the leader. You are the role model. If you miss deadlines, your team will as well. If you are late for meetings, your team will be late as well. Whatever you do sets the tone for what is acceptable. So, make sure you maintain your promises, that you are not exempted from the rules, and do not posture like you are some Polymath. 

Make sure expectations are set high but realistic. Agree on a consensus that details what should be done or not be done by team members. Like missing important meetings or wasting valuable time on activities that provide minimal value to the overall goal. 

Most of the barriers to building a successful team today are not any different from any time in the past. But never in our existence has diversity, remote collaborations, or competence that teams of today demand to tackle global business difficulties become so important. Therefore, it is imperative that team building models are realigned with the demands of the contemporary business environment. And clarity of purpose, expertise required to meet customer needs, tackle difficult business problems, open communications between team members, establishing trust and accountability while avoiding bad leadership will prove fruitful. 


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